Marketing 50

Steve & Barry's University Sportswear

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Alan Karo knows he's onto something when he sees women at grand openings on cell phones exhorting friends to drop everything and come in to buy all their kids' clothes at Steve & Barry's University Sportswear.

Mr. Karo, 49, came to the fledgling discount apparel chain early this year as its first chief marketing officer to fuel what he describes as "very aggressive expansion plans for this year and 2005." Steve & Barry's offers storewide price points of $7.98, sometimes as low as $5.98, on everything from T-shirts to down coats and college-letter jackets in eminently shoppable wood-floored stores with banks of 20 or more TVs blasting various sports programs.

Founders Steve Shore and Barry Prevor started Steve & Barry's University Sportswear near the University of Pennsylvania in the mid-1990s as a solution to high prices at campus bookstores.

Now, the chain has become a cross between Old Navy, Wal-Mart, Target and dollar stores as it occupies mall spaces left vacant by the unrelenting march of mass merchandisers. Mr. Karo relies primarily on publicity around grand openings, getting the right school apparel mix for each store-and those amazed moms on cell phones.

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